Monday, August 16, 2010

Reading to Become

Last week I attended a sort of retreat (for lack of a better word) called Hutchmoot organized by the Rabbit Room. During the weekend, we were invited to attend sessions on certain authors who had a meaningful impact on the Rabbit Room bloggers, and one session I chose was on Frederick Buechner. Eric Peters and Jason Gray led this session and shared with us how they view Buechner's works and also the impact he'd had on their lives. I left the room feeling like I immediately needed to read absolutely everything he's written (and I was in the thick of reading Godric at the time so that is pretty amazing) and even now I'm entertaining the idea of a themed week later in the year.

Eric Peters read a beautiful essay he'd written (I'm sort of pulling for him to write a book) and one of the things he mentioned was a conference he'd attended last year. At this conference, Barbara Brown Taylor talked about how we have endless stories from which to choose, there are no shortage of narratives in the world, and how we need to pick the ones we'll pay attention to. (totally paraphrasing his paraphrasing here....for a clearer write-up, see Stephen's post)

Actually since reading an account of this same lecture on a friend's blog earlier this year, coupled with a discussion about reading things that make us uncomfortable I've slowly been forming stronger feelings about what I read and what I want to read. I think the days of grabbing a book off the shelf and simply reading it for the heck of it are the past few years have seen huge shifts in my way of thinking, so it's all coming to a crisis point in my way of reading.

If you've read between the lines on this blog for the past few months, you must know this is a tension I constantly battle. There are in fact, so many stories I could be paying attention to. Not only are there so many books, but there are so many bloggers, so many twitter streams, so many people I've met along the way. But I can't do it all. Time is limited and I must choose which stories I'll give space to in my life. If I look back at my reading in 2009, I need to think about the stories that have impacted me, the ones that helped shape me into the better parts of who I am today. I want to seek out these same kinds of books.

These won't be the same books for everyone, we have different ideals, different areas we want to improve in. And I know some people don't ever think this hard about what they read and which blogs they enjoy, I get and respect that. This is not a commentary on anyone else's choices.

I want to read to become. I want to read and be confronted with the all the ways I fall short of who I wish to be and also inspired to be a better me. I know some of this sounds so cheesy, but it's the truth of how I feel....I think coming to this realization has been what all of my angst has been about. I have been unable to really commit to this before. It was in my head as what I wanted, but I was so easily distracted. But that's changing...and yes I know I've been writing a lot of posts about reading and how hard it's been lately and also how my feelings on in it are changing. I guess what I mean to say is that this blog is headed in a new direction, even as I am headed in a new direction.

It will take some time and maybe it won't look that different to you, I don't know yet. I only know that I'm excited by the idea of reading deeply, reading to become. I get that some of you who want more frequent book recommendations or are uninterested by other forms of story-telling may head in the opposite direction, but I feel like I'm finally going to be able to give shape to what I've always wanted this blog to be but never quite pulled off...a place where I interact with the books I read and a place that hopefully fosters community around books and the other pop-culture arts.

Thanks for sticking with me these past few months as I've wrestled through these issues. Your support has been touching and I really appreciate it.

How about you? Do you try to read to become the person you want to be?


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